Why Are Sharks Important?
Sharks are known as apex or top predators. This means that they are the ones controlling the balance of the oceanic ecosystem. Sharks are known as opportunistic hunters, which means they go after the slower, older, and sick fish. By doing this they are helping to keep the populations in check, and help stop the spread of diseases.
Sharks are at the top of the oceanic ecosystem, they are known as “keystone” species. This means that removing the sharks would cause the whole ecosystem to collapse. Many scientific studies have been done to show that a loss in the shark population results in a loss of commercially important fish and shellfish species.
Where sharks are being eliminated, the negative results on the reefs are showing. The largest reason sharks are being removed is for their fins to make shark fin soup. Many people are not aware, but because sharks are at the top of the food chain, they have the highest levels of toxins within their bodies. Their fins have no nutritional value, they are taken to make the soup for cultural value. An estimated 100 million sharks are killed every year, 73 million of those sharks are said to be killed just for their fins. Some shark populations have declined by up to 98% in the last 15 years and nearly one third of pelagic (free swimming) sharks species are considered threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. [http://www.wildaid.org/sharks]
How can you help? Most importantly if you see shark on the menu, do not order it. Chances are it was fished unsustainably. Inform your friends and family about how sharks really need our help before it is too late. Last but not least always go for products that are environmentally friendly, not only will this be helping the sharks, but it will be helpful to all ocean life. Since the ocean covers 70% of our earth it’s important that we help keep it in balance.